With legislation to dissolve the Manitoba Taxicab Board looming, ride-sharing giant Uber is revving its engines at the Manitoba start line.

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This article was published 18/9/2017 (1325 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

With legislation to dissolve the Manitoba Taxicab Board looming, ride-sharing giant Uber is revving its engines at the Manitoba start line.

Data gathered by the San Francisco-based company and shared with the Free Press shows that from January to July this year, more than 30,000 people in Winnipeg opened its app looking for a ride on a service not yet available in this region.

Jaap Arriens / NurPhoto / Sipa USA / TNS</p><p>Uber is keeping an eye on Manitoba and its ride-share legislation.</p>

Jaap Arriens / NurPhoto / Sipa USA / TNS

Uber is keeping an eye on Manitoba and its ride-share legislation.

Already operating in more than 40 municipalities across Canada — including Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton and Calgary — and more than 70 countries, Uber and similar companies have so far been shut out of Manitoba due to provincial regulations.

In March, however, the Progressive Conservative government introduced legislation that will dissolve the taxicab board — the licensing and regulatory body governing the industry — and will let municipalities set the rules by which vehicle-for-hire services could operate in the province. In April, the NDP opposition used legislative rules to push back the implementation of the Local Vehicles for Hire Act (Bill 30) until November.

Should it pass in the legislature, the world’s largest ride-sharing company will be ready — and the residents of Winnipeg willing — Uber Canada spokeswoman Susie Heath said in an email.

"We look forward to continuing to work with the province of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg to bring Uber to the province soon, so that Manitobans can benefit from another safe, reliable way to get around their communities and flexible income-earning opportunity," Heath said.

Uber Canada did not respond to requests for further comment.

SUPPLIED BY UBER - each dot represents the location of the first time a unique user opened the app in Winnipeg from January to June 2017.</p>

SUPPLIED BY UBER - each dot represents the location of the first time a unique user opened the app in Winnipeg from January to June 2017.

Michael Diamond, spokesman for the Winnipeg Taxi Alliance, said the industry expects Bill 30 to pass and is preparing arguments for the municipal level.

"There are small places where the bill can be improved upon, but we do not expect, nor are we asking for the bill to be pulled," Diamond said.

“Our ask of (Winnipeg) city hall and council will be the same as in the legislature... that regulations are sensible, that they protect consumers, drivers and are applied equally to all players in (the) same industry." –Michael Diamond, Winnipeg Taxi Alliance

"It doesn’t matter which level of government is putting the regulations together, our only goal is to see one set of rules — that there are not unequal regulations applied to providers offering the same service.

"Our ask of (Winnipeg) city hall and council will be the same as in the legislature... that regulations are sensible, that they protect consumers, drivers and are applied equally to all players in (the) same industry," he said, "Sales tax, GST, we shouldn’t be put at a competitive disadvantage by having some providers not having to (collect) that. We (also) feel there should be one insurance pool for people driving for profit."

A spokesman for Brian Bowman said the Winnipeg mayor has not wavered in his support for opening the city to ride-sharing entities — but will not play favourites if the province hands decision-making powers to the municipalities.

"Uber... is just one of those options and the mayor hasn’t, for example, supported Uber over other ride-sharing alternatives or vice-versa," the spokesman said in an email.

"Mayor Bowman has consistently, for many years, supported ride-sharing options that benefit citizens and work for everyone. In his state of the city address in February, prior to provincial legislation being introduced, he publicly committed to working with the province and the provincial taxicab board to move forward with introducing ride-sharing options in Winnipeg," the spokesman said.

"While the legislation has not yet been passed by the province, the City of Winnipeg is actively preparing an administrative report for council’s consideration in order to be ready for its passage and proclamation should that occur this fall."

scott.emmerson@freepress.mb.ca